Using data from, Stacker investigates how a pair of MLS teams managed to win just once at home against each other in a span of 12 games.

Seattle Sounders' Taylor Graham battles Portland Timbers' Bright Dike during the 2010 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

Jonathan Ferrey // Getty Images

On August 26, 2022, the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders will renew one of Major League Soccer’s fiercest rivalries. There’s no denying that these two Pacific Northwest neighbors harbor a deep distaste for each other, but there’s a twist to this rivalry: The away team has the edge — at least based on a recent trend.

Since 2011, the first year the Timbers and Sounders were both in MLS, home teams in the league have won roughly half of their games, just over double the away win rate, per a Stacker analysis (draws make up the remaining quarter) . The last 12 times Portland and Seattle have met in the regular season, however, the away team has won 10 times, lost once and tied once. That streak, which dates back to 2018, represents an 83% away win rate and an 8% home win rate, far below the league average.

The combined 10-1-1 away record becomes even more shocking when you consider that the Sounders and Timbers reside in two of the league’s most impregnable fortresses.

Seattle, which shares Lumen Field with the NFL’s Seahawks, has won 61% of its home games since 2011, the best among all active MLS clubs over that span. Portland, which plays in nearly century-old Providence Park, is also above the league average with a 53% home win rate.

And yet, when these two rivals collide, the home field advantage seems to disappear.

So how unlikely is it for a pair of MLS teams to manage just one home win against each other in a span of 12 games? Stacker tried to find out the answer by analyzing regular season data from See what we found ahead.

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In the last 12 meetings, the away team in the Portland-Seattle rivalry has +17 goal difference.

Bar graph of last 12 games Portland-Seattle

Jared Beilby // Stacker

While the early races of this last period were close, the margin has fluctuated widely over the past year. The Sounders defeated the Timbers 6-2 at Providence Park in August 2021 – the biggest margin of victory in the history of the MLS rivalry.

Two weeks later, Portland earned a 2-0 road win in Seattle. And in their first meeting this season, the Timbers won 3-0 on July 9, again, as they visited their neighbors to the north. All in all, the away team in the last 12 games Portland-Seattle has a difference of 17 goals.

The lone home win came in the COVID-19-impacted 2020, when Portland won 1-0 in the rain at a virtually empty Providence Park after a 13th-minute goal from Yimmi Chara. The empty stadium win means the home fans haven’t been in attendance for a regular season win in this rivalry since May 2018.

It is worth noting that in the two playoff meetings between Portland and Seattle, the locals performed somewhat better. These two games were played in a two-game tie during the 2018 playoffs; The Timbers won the first leg at home while the Sounders claimed the return leg in Seattle – but failed to advance as Portland eventually won 4-2 in penalty kicks.

The Portland-Seattle rivalry’s away goal differential stands alone in MLS history

Table showing MLS games with the highest away goal difference over a 12-game period

Jared Beilby // Stacker

When comparing the data to the rest of MLS, the true strangeness of this rivalry begins to emerge.

Stacker analyzed all 6,925 MLS regular season games that took place in history from 1996 to August 6, 2022. Of the 188 games that have been played at least 12 times, the Timbers-Sounders series is the only one where the away team has had a span of 12 games with an away goal difference of over plus-1 goals per game. The 17-goal differential translates to a plus-1.42 goal differential per game.

Two series come in plus-12 goals for the away team, or exactly plus-1 per game – Columbus Crew vs. New York MetroStars (now Red Bulls) and CF Montreal vs. Orlando City. The 1999-2003 Columbus-New York stretch marked an impressive 11-1-0 road record, slightly better than the 10-1-1 record of the Portland-Seattle streak.

Also, Seattle is no stranger to bucking the trend of home field advantage. Between 2013 and 2017, the Sounders played a 12-game stretch with Cascadia’s third division rival, the Vancouver Whitecaps, where the away team enjoyed a plus-11 goal differential.

Similar stretches on the sidelines are equally rare in Europe’s big 5 leagues

Table showing the top 5 European games with the biggest away goal difference over a 12-game period

Jared Beilby // Stacker

To provide a global context for the current stretch of Portland-Seattle fixtures, we also looked at results dating back to the first year of MLS from the five major European leagues: England, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

While differences in league structure, parity and quality mean this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison to MLS, European leagues offer a deeper picture with a wealth of data for analysis. Since 1996, there have been over 46,000 games played in these five leagues combined, and there are 1,448 games with at least a 12-game period. And when you expand the data set, the rivalry between the Sounders and Timbers remains remarkable.

Only a European qualifying series between VfB Stuttgart and 1. FC Köln (Cologne) has seen a better away goal difference over 12 games with plus-20 goals. When extended after a period of 12 games, the away supremacy of the Stuttgart-FC Köln series in the German Bundesliga has been truly shocking. In October 2000, FC Köln beat Stuttgart 3-2 at home. The streak took 17 years and 20 games later for a home team to win again in a Bundesliga match—Stuttgart won 2-1 in October 2017 to end the home win drought. In the 19 matches between home victories, the away team won 11 times with eight draws.

Another Bundesliga series, VfL Wolfsburg-Bayer 04 Leverkusen, is tied with Portland and Seattle with plus-17 goals. Interestingly, the second series is also currently active – Wolfsburg and Leverkusen are scheduled to play each other on October 20, 2022.

Despite these two Bundesliga runs, no match in Europe’s big 5 leagues has seen away teams win 10 or more games over a 12-match period. This makes MLS the only league out of the six analyzed with such a stretch. Additionally, the Timbers-Sounders contest is a rivalry, something none of the similarly stretched series can parallel.

Whether the Portland and Seattle trend continues is, of course, unknown. We’ll find out on August 26 if the Sounders can keep their end of the bargain when they head a few hours down Interstate 5 to face the Timbers. Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming game, this rivalry has already etched one of the rarest stretches in modern soccer history on the tablets of MLS lore.

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